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In The Kitchen With Aunt Becky

This was originally posted on Mommy Wants Vodka, content reproduced with author’s (me) consent. 

One of those things that I always figured I’d do when I was bored and had scads of free time, which, you know, I’m just swimming in with my three kids and houseful of pets, was to learn to decorate cakes.

I somehow forgot when I was hatching my Great Plan, that I have absolutely no eye for detail and have about as much fine motor skill as my poo-eating dog. But yes, in my head, I was going to be the next star baker.

Just like I was going to be the next Rembrandt, Britney Spears, and uh, Martha Stewart, because all of those plans were SO SUCCESSFUL.

But when I saw that I could buy something that fit my “I never got an EZ Bake Oven” fix AND test my prowess as a Master Cake Baker, I was all over it. (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, go here)(then come back)(and you should know that I do love me some Pioneer Woman)

Really, I didn’t see how I could go wrong. Except that a 29-year-old woman with a full kitchen of her own had bought a toy cake bakery. That seems all kinds of wrong when you put it THAT way.

But let’s not dwell on the negative here, Internet!

Microwaving, AWWW YEAH!

Now, see, THAT is the kind of cooking I can do. Short and sweet. None of those wonky STEPS that I can misconstrue or FORGET because I’ve accidentally wandered off to see what happens when I put the cat in a box.

While I don’t know why someone would want a pamphlet of “DUFF” inside a box clearly marketed for children, I suppose that is neither here nor there. He seems a little, uh, CREEPY and vapid, doesn’t he? (I know he’s on the Ace of Cakes)

No accounting for taste, I guess. Which is why you read my blog.

While shit, man, that’s waaaay too many instructions. I don’t need to read instructions. Those are for sissies.

Why, isn’t that perfectly darling? A wee cake decorating set! I can’t figure out what most of the doo-hickies are for, but, you know, I AM READY TO LEARN. Providing I don’t have to READ WORDS and FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS.

Well, THAT is fancy-pants. It’s either a toothbrush holder…or a sex toy. Kind of advanced for children.

Huh.

If parents can get outraged by the Fresh Beat Band, why not providing our children SEX TOYS!!1!! OH THE HUMANITY!!

Guess you know what I’ll wander off to do.

….

BRUSH MY TEETH, YOU PERVERTS.

Here we go, with some mother-humping yellow cake. That’s wicked yellow and I stirred it approximately 4.3 times before it was mixed thoroughly. Because that is the way I make cake, bitches.

Well, now, here I have expertly poured two thimbles of cake into the microwave pan where I shall bake it for exactly 30 seconds. How can this be bad?

(cue ominous music)

Well. That…uh, looks appetizing. It’s really a shame that I can’t make this blog post scratch and sniff, because this smells like burning hair.

nom nom nom SOYLENT GREEN nom nom nom.

The Soylent Green patties are, I should note, about the size that one might expect to feed a wee field mouse. I am holding my lens cap up for perspective.

Cue the old joke… “the food was so bad….And there was so little of it!”

In an effort to cover up the horrible yellow color of the cake, I have chosen blue as my fondant color. Note my expert mixing technique. I should probably get a medal from the Mixing Olympics.

This fondant looks like a pile of, well, blue…poo.

I’m certain that I can roll it out and make it look better.

Oh. Well. Um.

Maybe I should have read the directions.

I know, I’ll read them now!

Okay, that looks NOTHING like what I’ve got.

Uh. Well. I KNOW. NEXT STEP.

Icing. I can cover this with icing. THAT’S ALL. I bet it’ll look as good as new in NO TIME.

That looks a lot like we’re about to artificially inseminate something. WICKED.

My pre-iced cake on it’s pretty little platform. Doesn’t it look like, well, someone with no thumbs decorated it?

Scratch that. People without thumbs could do better. BLIND people without thumbs could do better.

Aunt Becky’s Weapon of Mass Destruction. The ICING GUN. Prepare to meet your MAKER.

Uh. WHOOPS.

I genuinely do not know what I did wrong here. It appears as though my icing gun misfired.

I, um, I swear guys, this NEVER happens to me.

(cue inappropriate jokes)

UGLY CAKE, PREPARE TO MEET YOUR MAKER, uh, PART II.

Awww! Lookit my whimsical, drippy heart! With some balls thrown on it for good measure. Because everything is made better with colorful balls and icing.

(go ahead)(make your jokes, people)

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the reason that you do not want me to cook when you come to my house. THIS is the reason that I order takeout.

Because while this appears to have been done for comedic value, it actually was not. This was genuinely the best that I could do.

For serious.

Dose of Happy: Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love My ICD

 

dose of happy

When I was young, I always hated gym. I was never good at it. The running and the throwing of things was just never my bag. I was always short of breath and sometimes even came close to fainting. I always chalked it up to being a fat little kid who was grossly unathletic.

I lived for ninth grade because I only had to take a semester of gym and then it would be over forever, or at least until I got to college. I finished 9th grade and gladly went on my merry gym-free way.

Fast forward to 2007.

I had been out of high school and was in my third year of college. I began experiencing back pain, the likes of which I had never felt. I finally went to the doctor, and while the Nurse Practitioner was listening to my heart, she looked up and asked “You have a heart murmur, don’t you?”

I had never heard such a thing.

After tests, including one where they sedated me, shoved a “probe” down my throat, and looked at my heart (after which I cried for want of a cheeseburger), I was diagnosed with a regular heart murmur with Mitral Valve Regurgitation (which I described to people as “my heart pukes”) and Sub-Aortic Stenosis.

Some time later (2010-ish) my dad, who has CHD, began having Atrial Fibrilation episodes.

He eventually got in to see the doctor his brothers go to, and we loaded up to see if he could fix my dad’s bum ticker.

The next phase of the story I wrote about earlier in this post. During this time I was re-diagnosed with a condition called Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy or HCM for short.

All of the things that I had experienced as a kid, all of the shortness of breath while running, all of the blacking out in PE episodes – they all made sense now (granted, they still don’t account for my athletic abilities or lack thereof).

After my diagnosis, I was scared. I began taking my drugs like a good little girl and prepared myself. I scheduled an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) implantation for July, the month after my dad got his. I recovered just in time to return to work for the school year, and I am feeling better than ever.

After all of that worry and fear I have come to realize some things.

Not every 25 (almost 26) year old can say that she is battery operated.

Before any of this happened, I used to tell my students that I had a plastic heart; now I (sort of) have a metal one.

I tell people that I am part computer, or even bionic.

I make sick jokes about being shocked all the time.

My dad and I even joke about starting a doo-wop group with 2 of his brothers who have ICDs called The Pacers.

I never knew that having HCM and an ICD could be such a source of amusement. I even love to freak people out by letting them touch it under my skin. There is nothing better than the slightly horrified look on someone’s face when they touch the hard, metal rectangle on my chest.

In the end, the laughter and the jokes far outweigh the fear and uncertainty that I had before I got the surgery.

Plus, I hope that in the 6-10 years that it will take for me to need a replacement, they will have integrated an MP3 player into the device.

Dose Of Happy: Repression = Fashion…RIGHT?

I tend to get into television shows far later than most. In fact, if there’s a series that’s about to be cancelled or IS, in fact, cancelled, I will probably get into it, fall in love, then be devastatingly crushed when it is over. BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT, DAMMIT.

I’m still not over the ending of Prison Break – I cannot think of it without weeping. I may have a little bit of a problem.

(shut UP)

A couple of months ago, probably while looking for tweets about laser kitties, I stumbled across The Twitter babbling on about a show called Mad Men. I sorta want to put it in inappropriate quotation marks just because.

Well, I figured that if the REST of the world was watching it, I’d probably hate it. Even though I’m married simultaneously to Dr. House and Dexter – both popular shows – I always assume I’ll hate popular culture. You can thank my parents for that one, Pranksters.

About a month ago, after reaching the end of Numbers, spending several days in mourning and then realizing I needed a new hobby besides becoming overly invested in television shows (see also: my marriages to Dr. House and Dexter), I finally queued up Mad Men.

I’m hesitant about any show that I alone pick because I spent at least three months watching Nip/Tuck while hating every goddamned minute of it. I screamed at the TV like it was a football game every night until I watched every single episode. And then? I’m STILL furious that I spent so much time watching a show while hating every. single. character.

Alas, I digress.

But I picked Mad Men, and I began to watch it, unsure of how I could handle a show where people aren’t eaten by sharks or otherwise horribly disfigured, depressed, or maimed (see also: my love of Cold Case and Law and Order: You Lead A Charmed Life, Motherfucker).

I admit, I was bored by the show. But I kept on because I HAD TO SEE IF SOMEONE WOULD BE EATEN BY A GIANT BEAR.

And then, I sorta, kinda, maybe liked some of the characters. Like a little.

But mostly, I liked the clothes. So what if everyone is repressed, drunk, and chain-smoking? THEY HAVE KICKY CLOTHES THAT I COVET! So what if everyone is having The Sex with everyone else? LOOKIT THE FANCY HAIRS!

I’m making an executive decision. I will go back to being a repressed housewife in the 1960’s IF I can get clothes like that. Because have you BEEN to The Target recently?

One word: ROMPERS. For WOMEN.

(that was more like two words)

I’m SO not okay with that. I’m also not okay with the scrunchies, acid-washed jeans, or jeggings.

NOT OKAY, PRANKSTERS.

So bring on the copious amounts of booze, gimmie my pack of smokes and fancy lady lighter, and screw being liberated. IF I CAN WEAR A TWIRLY SKIRT, I’M YOURS.

This post has been reposted by express orders from Your Aunt Becky, a Master of the Universe, and the author of my blog Mommy Wants Vodka.

Dose of Happy: Even The Mistakes Are Good

With all the upheaval and negativity running rampant through our lives, it’s important to be able to stop, take stock of what’s important, and find some joy wherever we can.

At The Band Back Together Project, we like to take the time specifically to arrange a little happy boost for everyone.

You’re always welcome to share your story with us!

dose of happy

My daughter has always loved to cook and create in the kitchen. When she was four, we were able to have cable television for a time, and the Food Network.

She was in heaven.

Other children turn on cartoons on Saturday mornings. My daughter would rather watch Paula Dean or the Barefoot Contessa.

She had – and still has – such a passion for cooking. She would get so excited every time she made something. It was always excellent! And amazing! Delicious!

Even when things didn’t turn out quite right, she always found a way to declare them good.

The bottom of the cookie might be burnt, but the top of the cookie? That was delicious!

dose of happy

Our scalloped potatoes and ham might be a touch closer to soup than a casserole, but didn’t it taste amazing?

She’d declare our efforts good, and then turn to me and say something like,

“We made this good. But next time, we should make it different, so it’s more good!”

Grammar aside, my daughter knew something at four years old that I still forget:

Even our mistakes can be good.

Our mistakes are how we learn. We muddle through our situations as best we can, and then we look back and see where we can do better next time we’re faced with something hard.

Even our mistakes can be good, if we learn from them.

Dose of Happy: Anxious

With all the upheaval and negativity running rampant through our lives, it’s important to be able to stop, take stock of what’s important, and find some joy wherever we can.

At The Band Back Together Project, we like to take the time specifically to arrange a little happy boost for everyone.

You’re always welcome to share your story with us!

dose of happy

t dawns on me as I sit there, anxiety at an all time high, my left butt-cheek falling asleep, that I could be somewhere else eating a bagel. Like Paris. Or Detroit. Or learning the Swahili phrase for “pants are bullshit.” Or washing my car. Okay, maybe not washing my car. It was like -900 degrees out. Washing my car would be like that scene in the Terminator with the Nitrous Oxide and the robot.

I smile, imagining my car shattering in the car wash, until I remember I’m probably sitting on barf germs. I hate barf germs.

My iPhone isn’t getting any signal in here. Stupid AT&T. Should be named the iCAN’TPhone because I haven’t been able to make a phone call since I got the damn thing. Hm. I really could use some mindless interaction from The Twitter right about now. Or maybe a Vicodin-Chip cookie. Or some vodka. Because my heart feels like it’s going to pound right the fuck out of my chest.

When the hell did this HAPPEN?

When did I start feeling stretched as taut as an over-tuned violin string? Why did I feel like the pressure to do more; to be more, to constantly outdo myself was omnipresent? Like I couldn’t ever possibly manage to live up to my own unrealistic expectations? Like I had to somehow be everything to everyone. Like if I didn’t constantly prove myself, I would cease to matter. I would cease to exist.

When did this start? And moreover: how could I make this stop?

dose of happy anxious

These anxious racing thoughts; this anxiety, this had to stop.

Admitting that I had a problem the first step, I know from Al-Anon, and doing something about it was important. Hence the bagel-craving and the barf-germ-coated chair in my doctor’s waiting room. And, of course, the urge to flee so that I could learn Portuguese or Mandarin or really anything but admit that I had a problem.

I’m so tired of problems. I’m so tired of having something wrong that I barely want to admit to myself that I have a problem. Between migraines and my lazy-ass missing-in-action thyroid and insomnia, I can hardly stand to be in the same room with myself anymore without wanting to punch myself in the teeth. Problems are bullshit. I hate problems. Maybe I can make a “Problems Are Bullshit” shirt. Because they are. Bullshit, that is.

Maybe this isn’t ACTUALLY a problem. Maybe I can just ignore it and it’ll get better on it’s own.

Except it hasn’t. Because that’s what I’ve been doing. And it’s not working. Clearly.

Before I could do anything, though, the nurse poked her head into the waiting room, “Becky?” she trilled calmly, clearly unaware of my churning guts.

I sighed, put my iDON’TWORKPhone back into my purse and followed her back.

“What seems to be the problem?” she asked kindly.

“Well,” I started, looking at my hands, ashamed to be admitting this to anyone but the people who live inside my computer. “It’s sorta like this…”

Reprinted with permission from the original author, Becky Sherrick Harks, or Aunt Becky of Mommy Wants Vodka from March 8, 2001.

Dose of Happy: Post-Therapy Thoughts

therapy feelings

Therapy Session II:

Today’s session was a bit hard to swallow, but very much necessary. We discussed co-dependency, power struggles, and volatility… my apparent trifecta.

I learned that ‘feelings‘ are often thinly veiled thoughts and that the two, while similar in many ways, are VASTLY different.

therapy feelings

I learned that it’s okay to express both thoughts AND feelings. I don’t always need to apologize when I speak my truths (even if it is upsetting to the other party) because I’m not responsible for others’ emotions, only my own.

I learned that personal boundaries are healthy.

I learned that to truly become better, I must acknowledge and study and embrace my failure. I can’t always strive for perfection.

I learned that, although others may be responsible for my traumas, only I am responsible for addressing and fixing them.

Also, and perhaps most importantly, I learned that true happiness isn’t going to be found anywhere else but inside of ME, so it’s up to me alone to find it.

#therapy #endthestigma #enlightenment #therapyispowerful #mentalhealthmatters #powertothefeminist #thoughts #talktherapy #codepencency